Saturday, September 10, 2011

Meshed and Confused


It looks like mesh is here at last and for those who know how to make them and those who have a viewer to see them, this is pretty exciting stuff. I don't need to go into details about what mesh is all about (especially since I haven't actually made one yet myself). There's some moderately useful information on the SL Wiki. Our first mesh entry is Mcarp Mavendorf's amazing new clock. Here's what it looks like in Phoenix or SL V.2:

And here it is in SL Viewer 3:
There are some other detail shots on my Picasa site.

For the UWA 3D Open Art Challenge, it represents, well, a challenge. There are a couple of essential impacts:
  • "Normal" prims can now be legally created up to 64 meters in any dimension.
  • Mesh objects are being charged a prim surcharge according to how complex they are and how large they are.
We have never had a size limit for entries at UWA and don't plan to start now. We've always allowed megaprims and large installations. If anything does not fit comfortably on the gallery platform itself, we are happy to accommodate them on another platform with appropriate TP devices. The new ability to make large prims can only be a good thing since we are no longer limited to available megas from the black market.

The surcharge on meshes is more difficult. The prim limit at UWA has always been published as 100, though it's widely known that we will allow an overage up to a hard maximum of 110. With an average of roughly 70 entries a month, each potentially using up to 110 prims, we still have a fairly comfortable margin on the sim, even with the gallery platform and the UWA campus buildings below. (It's remarkable how many entries come in within a prim or two of the maximum.) The SL "Prim Equivalent" (PE) surcharge, however, can add significantly to the total prim cost against the fixed sim allotment. A single mesh prim can use a couple hundred PEs just by scaling it larger.

Just because SL has decided to charge more for meshes doesn't mean we have to put undue limits on your creativity. So we made an arbitrary but reasonable decision that should encourage the use of meshes without bankrupting the sim. For the final 2 rounds of the Challenge (September and October), the base prim limit is unchanged. You can still submit objects of whatever kind up to 110 prims. For meshes, we are allowing up to double that in PEs. You may not excede 110 prims, but you may go up to 220 PEs.

If you are working in meshes, you'll understand what this means. For those who are not, please understand that this is not an unfair advantage for mesh users. We are simply treating meshes (for purposes of the Art Challenges) no differently from ordinary prims or sculpts, up to a limit that will not adversely impact the sim capacity. We are already getting some exciting new work and I encourage you all to check it out.

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